If you’re a science fiction fan, you’re already familiar with Katee Sackhoff. Between her appearances as Lieutenant Kara “Starbuck” Thrace on Battlestar Galactica, Bo-Katan Kryze on The Mandalorian, Amunet Black on The Flash, Dahl in Riddick, and Niko Breckinridge on Another Life, Sackhoff has established herself as the go-to action heroine in the genre space. If you need a sci-fi badass, she’s the woman you call.
But unfortunately, that kind of reputation comes with a price. “For better or worse, I am very much associated with strong, physically fit, very capable, independent, healthy women. My weight has been a topic of discussion in this industry for so many years,” Sackhoff tells Looper in an exclusive interview. “I started acting when I was 17, and I was known for a very long time as the chubby girl from the Max Bickford show, or the show with Richard Dreyfuss. And, it was like, ‘I’m a size eight.’ I didn’t understand.”
That’s one of the big reasons why Sackhoff started her YouTube channel Blood, Sweat & Coffee, which gives an in-depth and unflinchingly honest look at how Sackhoff trains for her physically demanding roles, shapes her body according to the character she’s playing, and maintains a healthy lifestyle. “People, men and women, look up to me, and they’ve asked me questions about what I do. And I wanted to be as honest as possible and I wanted to show the works and all,” Sackhoff explains.
After being diagnosed with thyroid cancer near the end of filming on Battlestar Galactica, undergoing surgery, remaining in remission for over a decade, she’s committed herself to being as healthy as possible. On average, she trains five days a week, spending between 30 minutes to an hour working out. Her routine changes regularly, too. As she describes on Sweat, Blood & Coffee, Sackhoff works hard to ensure that every character she plays has a different body type — Longmire’s Vic Moretti is curvier than Riddick’s Dahl, for example — and as she gets older, she adjusts her workouts accordingly.
Suffice to say, Sackhoff is about as healthy as she’s ever been, but getting fit did have a big drawback: After years in show business, Sackhoff suddenly couldn’t remember her lines.
For that, Sackhoff blames smoking — or the lack thereof. “I quit smoking 10 years ago, and when I quit smoking, I couldn’t memorize dialogue for a good handful of years,” she says. “I [thought], ‘What the hell? I have to figure something out.'”
Before, Sackhoff would sit with a cigarette in one hand and a script in the other, chain-smoking as she learned her lines. “What I realized is that, because of the repetitive nature of memorizing dialogue, I had to be doing something else at the same time,” she explains to Looper. Without smoking to help, Sackhoff had to find something else.
Cardio was the answer. “I get on a treadmill with my script or I walk around the neighborhood, talking to myself. People think I’m insane. And I memorize my dialogue,” Sackhoff says. “That’s what I do. So, I get my cardio in as I’m flipping pages. I do probably an hour a day of just walking on a treadmill.”
Keeping busy like that is a recurring theme in Sackhoff’s life. In fact, it’s why she started Sweat, Blood & Coffee in the first place. “We’re in an industry that is very much dependent on people hiring you. And there are times where that can take its toll on you emotionally and creatively,” she says. “I was [thinking], ‘I am just bored. I need to create something. I need to do something.'” And so, she decided to share her fitness journey with the world. The rest? Well, you can see that for yourself.
You can find more about Sackhoff’s fitness regimen, as well as all other kinds of helpful information and advice, on Blood, Sweat & Coffee. Meanwhile, her recent appearances on The Mandalorian can be found on Disney+, while the next season of her Netflix series Another Life is expected to drop later this year.